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Diesel Engine Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tips

Regular semi truck maintenance is crucial for getting the best value out of your big rig. Preventive maintenance can lower the long-term cost of ownership by reducing the need for costly repairs, while helping you avoid time-consuming breakdowns and stay safe on the road. And your diesel engine, in particular, deserves an extra helping of TLC during maintenance appointments, and from drivers in their day-to-day operations. After all, the engine is what makes the truck go in the first place. If it fails, the whole vehicle is out of commission until it can be repaired. Here are a few simple tips for maintaining your engine and spotting the possible warning signs of engine trouble.

Keeping Your Semi Engine in Road-Ready Condition

While many drivers may be tempted to skip the all-important pre-trip inspection, it is essential for identifying problems early, when they are easier and less expensive to fix. Here are three things to look for that will affect the engine performance.
  • Inspect and change the oil. All drivers must check the oil before every trip. Driving with low or dirty oil can harm the engine and lead to costly repair bills.
  • Inspect the radiator. The radiator is what keeps your engine from overheating. Like the oil, it must be checked before every trip, as well as during routine maintenance appointments. Top off the radiator fluid if it’s below acceptable levels. Check for leaks and have them repaired immediately.
  • Check the fuel vent. Insects such as wasps may decide your fuel vent would make a nice home. Inspect and remove insect nests or other debris, as a clogged fuel vent can also cause expensive damage to your engine.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Diesel Engine Problems

Drivers must stay alert for signs of engine problems that may emerge over the course of a run. If any of these warning signs appear, it’s time to have the engine checked and repaired before more severe damage is done.
  • Overheating. If the engine is getting too hot, it’s time to check for trouble and remember a few smart driving habits that can cool things off.
    • Check the radiator for clogs.
    • Inspect the axles, brakes and tires. If these are in poor condition, it’ll put excessive strain on the engine.
    • Examine the engine fan and belts for signs of damage.
    • Look for oil and coolant leaks
    • If driving in hot weather, consider shifting to a lower gear to compensate for the strain caused by higher temperatures.
    • Consider turning off the air conditioner when driving on an incline.
  • Engine won’t start or has difficulty starting.
    • Check the battery, starter connection, fuel pump, fuel lines, air filters and injectors.
    • Look for clogged filters.
    • Check for sufficient and clean fuel. Dirty fuel will damage the engine.
  • Watch for smoke. The color of the smoke may indicate what type of engine problem you have.
    • White smoke may point to engine compression or timing issues.
    • Black smoke may mean dirty filters or damaged injectors.
    • Blue smoke could indicate worn out cylinders or piston rings.
Contact Pedigree if you have questions about diesel engine care and to learn more about our wide selection of fleet maintained trucks and trailers.